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Who Hired the Angry Black Woman?

Ms. Shonda RhimesLast month, highly acclaimed television producer, Shonda Rhimes, was titled the “angry black woman” in an article from the New York Times.  The article stated that Ms. Rhimes, creator, writer and producer of television favorites like Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder, consistently displays the main characters in her top rated television shows as angry.

The article noted also that Ms. Rhimes’ main characters are African-American women.  In response to the article, Ms. Rhimes blasted the writer for stereotyping her and her main characters.  The comments of the writer from the New York Times indicates that despite your level of accomplishments in the workplace, negative stereotypical remarks remain alive and well.

After reading about this incident involving Ms. Rhimes, I flashed-back to my younger me.   As a young worker, I experienced a direct supervisor telling me that “all sisters have attitudes”.   My direct supervisor insisted on explaining to me the behavior of “black women as angry and sassy”.  Even though this conversation happened over twenty years ago, the words of my supervisor haunts me because I am far from angry.  To the contrary, I am always cheerful, kind and conservative in nature.

How to Not be the Angry Black Woman

Nevertheless, as women of color, we cannot stop the negative racist thoughts and comments of others.  But, we do not have to perpetuate the stereotype by following these simple steps:

  • Control your body movement.  Keep your hands by your side or behind your back while communicating with your colleagues and/or supervisors.
  • Keep your head still.  Do not roll your neck.
  • Stick to the facts.  There is no room for emotional behavior or over reacting to incidents and/or others.
  • Watch the tone in your voice.  Remain calm even when being stern.
  • Always use proper grammar in written and oral communications.
  • If you become angry at work, maintain your composure.  Stay professional and don’t not come out of character for anyone and/or anything.

Dorothy HandfieldDorothy C. Handfield is Founder/Owner of DCH Consulting Services, LLC.  As a Workforce Consultant, she assists job seekers to transform into highly qualified candidates who get and keep their dream jobs.  Follow: Twitter, Instagram @consultingdch and LinkedIn – Dorothy C. Handfield

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Dirty Dozen Communication Tips for The Job Interview

Job search communicationOne of the biggest hurdles that some college students and new grads have to get over is, making that switch from what I call “college talk” to “business professional talk”.   New grads who don’t make that switch will often struggle in the job interview.  Many times these new grads and students struggle with the job search process without knowing that all they have to do is work on changing their communication strategy.  If you have read my articles over the years, you know that I always talk about my Three C’s of successful interviewing – Using good Communication skills to speak with Confidence about your Competencies.

Communication Tips for the Job Interview

The following is my list of my dirty dozen communication tips for the job interview.  I know you have seen similar lists before, but here is one to print, laminate and keep in your interview portfolio as a reminder.

-Be courteous when you communicate with everyone you meet onsite at the compny.  Sometimes hiring managers will ask others, including the admin staff for their impression of you after the interview.

-Be sure to communicate your understanding of the fundamental knowledge or skills necessary to do the job.

-Don’t speak negatively about former employers, supervisors or other companies.

-Speak about what you learned from your company research.  If you don’t get a chance to do it while you are answering questions, you should demonstrate your knowledge with the questions you ask.

-Make sure you communicate with confidence and poise. Maintain an upbeat tone in your voice all the way to the end of the sentence.

-Remember that your body is also communicating.  So make sure you do things like sit upright in your chair, make eye contact and don’t mumble unclear responses.

-If you are participating in a panel interview or a group interview, communicate with everyone else in the interview.

-Drop the slang.  Go to the campus career center and schedule a video taped mock interview session so can really hear yourself.

-Don’t forget to ask questions.  Write down your list of questions before the interview and when you are asked, if you have any questions – say yes and refer to your list.

-All your communication must show real and sincere enthusiasm or interest in the company, industry or field.

-A key part of your communication strategy must be to actually ask for the job.  Before the interview is over, remind the interviewer of why your skills and abilities will add value to the organization.

-Post interview communication is also very important.  From your thank-you email to any follow up phone calls you have to make to the interviewer.

Improve your Job Interview skills with information from The HBCU Career Center interview page.

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Are you Failing at Job Search Follow up?

job search follow up It’s been 5 months since millions of college graduates walked in commencement ceremonies all across the country this past spring.  If you are one of those grads who haven’t landed a job yet, take heart.  Experts say the average length of a job search for a new grad is running around 6-9 months.  Don’t get too comfortable with that statistic though since, the other reality is that HR Executives in a Hayden Wilder survey, said that 85% of entry level candidates are just not prepared for the job search process.

So, although it is reasonable that it is taking you some time to land a job, you don’t want to delay the process because you are executing a bad job search.  It is true that your resume and job interview skills are the anchors in a successful job search.  However, there is another key component, often overlooked.  It is the job search follow up.  Job search follow up is not just about sending a thank you letter after the job interview.  Job search follow up is about keeping your word throughout the entire process. If you have graduated and you are job hunting and looking to start that perfect career, your job search follow up strategy has to be consistent, professional and timely.

If you are failing at job search follow up in these areas, take steps to improve while you are still in the 6-9 month, new grad hiring window.

Follow up on Referrals

If someone who wants to help you in your search gives you the name of a hiring manager or HR recruiter; follow up and make the connection. Make connection with this new person and establish your own relationship. Be sure to acknowledge who referred you. Reach out to them on a professional social networking site such as LinkedIn as well.

Follow up with Research

Many college career centers will give college seniors a list of companies that are hiring new graduates. New college graduates must follow up by doing the required research on the list of organizations and apply for positions of interest.  If these companies are interviewing on campus and you don’t follow up, you will definitely miss opportunities.

Follow up on “homework” assignments

Career coaches will often give job seekers “homework”. These are assignments that if  completed will help a candidate move to the next step. Whether this homework is to complete a career assessment, do an informational interview, draft a first resume or read an article completion; follow through is important.

Follow up with business cards

If you collect business cards at a public event be it job fair, a MeetUp or an open house at a local organization, try to follow up within 48 hours after the meeting.

Follow up after the Job Interview

Job interview follow up can be in the form of a phone call, voice mail, an email, even a written letter or card or connecting via social media. Regardless of which format you choose to use, keep your message positive and professional.

Follow up with Gratitude

Once you do land your first job and begin your career path, thank everyone who helped you to get to this point. Connect with your college career center or professors and let them know what you are doing. Thank the HR managers who may have referred you to the next level. Thank friends and family for their support and set up a schedule to keep in touch with these folks in six months or so. These people could be important again later on in your career and who knows, you might be able to give them a hand in their own professional journey.

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Professional References are Everywhere on Campus

professional references on campusWe know the importance of getting support from professionals who share positive words about our skills and competencies.

Find Professional References on Campus

Many college students, build great professional relationships with college administrators, coaches, program coordinators and faculty on their college campuses.  However, many students overlook  these people when they start to look for professional references as they search for jobs and internships.

If you are graduating or looking for internships, start thinking about  who you know on campus who might be willing to be a professional reference for you.

The ability to have professional references from your campus, where you have spent four or more years, is a good indicator of your ability to build relationships.

Tips to find professional references on campus

-Be nice. No college professional you meet is obligated to be a professional reference for you.

-Be professional. Whether you ask in person or by email, stay professional. This email message should be void of text messaging lingo.

-Be timely.  Chances are, you aren’t the only person asking for a professional reference letter. Give the person ample time to get a good letter completed for you. I have had students ask me on a Monday with a Thursday deadline. Although I always got it done for the student, a few times, I have had to say “No” because I just did not have the time.

Keep in mind that a classmate might ask you to write one for them too. This is something you should know how to do as well.  Read the 9 Key Elements of a Good Reference Letter.

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Plan your Interview Questions Before the Job Interview

ask interview questions“Should I ask questions in the job interview?” is probably one of the most asked questions by college students when they do mock interviews. The answer is – “YES” definitely YES!

Whether applying for internships, co-ops, entry level career opportunities or campus jobs, college students are expected to ask questions in the job interview.  Recruiters and employers not only expect the questions, but will be more impressed if you plan your interview questions ahead of time.

1. Asking questions in the job interview will show your interest in the opportunity and the organization.

2. Some questions you ask in the job interview will also show the interviewer that you did your research and know something about the company.

2. Questions qive you the chance to show off some of your ideas as well and make connections with the recruiter and the company.

3. Recruiters will see this as positive behavior which they hope you will replicate on the job.

It is a good idea to think about the questions you want to ask and write these questions down before you get to the job interview. If you have questions written down before the job interview, do not be afraid to open your notes and read your questions.

Here are some sample questions for college students can ask in a job interview?

1. What non-routine tasks are involved with this job?
2. When would like me to start working?
3. What is the next step in the hiring process?
4. When can I expect to be contacted about next steps?
5. What do you like most about working here?
6. May I see the work area?
7. What is the schedule for training?
8. How many people are in the department and will I work on project teams?
9. What are the priorities for the xxxx department?
10. What is the first project that will need my attention?
11. How may I contact you if I have more questions or is there someone else I should speak with?

Most college students have a lot of energy and like to share their opinions. The job interview is not the time to be shy – Speak up!

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Online Behavior can Kill your Future Career

online behaviorCompanies recruiting on college campuses are definitely evaluating online behavior of potential candidates on networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and video sites like YouTube.  Currently, 48.5% of respondents who recruit on college campuses said that they are using more social networks to connect with potential candidates.  This is actually up significantly from 2010 when the percentage was almost 14%.

What career professionals are saying

At a recent careers conference in Philadelphia, student online behavior was a major topic of conversation among career center staff and corporate recruiters.  One recruiter shared that a negative online persona showed students to be “immature and unprofessional, at best, and does not encourage an employer to visit a college campus.

Students online behavior

I am sure you have heard this before, but it bears repeating — Despite the horror stories of employers pulling back their job offers, many college students continue to jeopardize their future career success, by posting inappropriate content on social networking sites. HBCU college students, like other college students, still think the online videos of friends or themselves in compromising situations are innocent, private expressions. Too many college students still think their online behavior is really without long term ramifications.

When a client tells me they are having difficulties landing a job, an internship or a promotion, one of the first things I do is check out their online behavior.  Here are some of the things I see that could create a negative impression.

  • complaints about work, while at work
  • pornography
  • cursing
  • poor grammar
  • no professional presence at all

While social networking has become an important part of our lives, I have to remind college students and graduates that online behavior can really kill a future career.  From US congressmen, to public relations professionals and professional athletes, it seems no one is immune from bad online behavior.

The nature of the internet leaves personal indiscretions available for everyone to see long after the act itself.

If you are guilty of creating a negative impression online, now is the time to fix it.

Data source: National Association of Colleges and Employers

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